Not Sure What to Post on Social Media? Here Are Eight Surefire Ideas for Artists and Creatives
Most artists and creative professionals can agree that building a social media presence is helpful to getting noticed and to building a following. However, beyond posting images of their own work (which is a given, and not what this post is about), most of us struggle to find anything else to share or say on the platform of our choice. Here, to help you jump-start your brainstorming process, are a few ideas to consider, that just might help you attract a group of people who share your interests.
1) Introduce your Followers to the Work you Admire Most
Give your followers some insight into what you are drawn to when you visit galleries, museums, and exhibits. Your aesthetic sensibilities are very likely of great interest to your followers, as they speak to what may inspire your creative output, and may influence everything from your color palettes to your choice of subject matter. And be brave about it. Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unusual or unexpected sources. In the words of Austin Kleon, "We all love things that other people think are garbage," so, have the courage to own up to what you love, and don't let other people make you feel guilty about it. Become unapologetic about it, and cultivate your own brand of 'interesting.'
2) Strike a pose: Connect a Face with a Name
Many artists and creatives are reticent to let people on social media glimpse into their lives. This is a personal decision, but the key is to think carefully about the approach you would like to take, instead of whether you should take it on at all. You do have options. Whether you provide cooly composed portraits, or more impromptu shots, or video, is up to you, but letting people see who you are, and giving them glimpses into your personality, can make you seem more relatable and approachable.
You definitely don't need to go overboard, but including an image of yourself here or there is, for the most part, a good idea. If you have the budget for professional photography, this is a wise investment, because you are, after all, in a visual industry. But, you can also hand the camera to someone else, or stage your shots using your smart phone and a small tripod. It's that simple. If you can avoid posting just selfies, all the better -- that is one way to instantly set yourself apart from the crowd. Research proves that posts with people in them do best, so think of it as "come for the selfies, stay for the art."
3) Share a Point of View
Do you have subversive wit or a wicked sense of humor? Hopefully that's already shining through in your social media. If not, you have work to do! Are you an activist, or do you have strong opinions about a specific topic? Consider letting your followers in on your thoughts, but tread carefully if this makes you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable as some things are just better kept private.
Do you support a particular movement? Consider 're-gramming' a post that would help the cause (but, ask for permission!). Or, come up with a creative way, visually, to add momentum to the effort. For example, Libby VanDerPloeg, an illustration artist, did a brilliant job of creating a visually striking post that showcases her lettering skills and that also speaks to current political issues that are of great importance to her.
Yes, there are those who will feel entitled to criticize you, so feel free to block individuals or accounts that engage in hate speech, and yes, you may also lose a few followers when you share anything that is considered controversial. For the most part, this is a good thing. Those who leave are probably not a good fit for you or your talent, and those who stay -- those are your 'peeps!'
4) Champion an Art Market and/or Your Fellow Artists
Whether you are aware of it or not, you are likely part of a specific art market or community (or several). For example, if you are a Latino artist whose preferred medium is watercolor and you live in Houston, Texas, your work fits a few distinct art market categories: Latino artists; watercolor artists; local Houston artists or Texas artists. How can you help champion work by others in each of these categories? Are you involved in collaborations with other artists or are you part of a professional organization you love? Think about introducing those activities in a way that also helps advance their goals. One artist, Shantell Martin, is a champ in this category, and she goes the extra mile by asking people in her images if they want to be tagged in her photo/post. Tagging others (by using an @ before their username), and adding a few relevant hashtags helps everyone who is committed to sharing their work -- unless they choose to opt out. Collaboration over competition is the operative mantra here.
5) Think, and Act, like a Curator
You are knowledgeable about your own community's art/design scene, and your insights into people and places that you frequent is likely going to be of interest to your followers. It is a bit like seeing the world through someone else's eyes. Can you (visually as well as in words) illustrate what sparks your interest? Also, think about including recommendations of favorite books, articles, workshops/retreats or artsy/design products and why you like them. What one person selects is obviously going to be very different from another's, but you may stumble across a few things that are already popular with your followers, which may help you spark an online conversation and help you build a relationship.
6) Behave like a Collector
Most artists and designers are avid collectors, and these collections are unique and interesting. Yes, it is true that most of us enjoy collecting art, photography and beautifully-designed objects, but a collection can also be something completely 'out-of-the-box." One visual artist I know, Luisa Duarte, collects small metal objects she and her husband find discarded on city streets. Individually, these objects are really not much to look at; but when they are artfully displayed on a wall, they suddenly become a striking 'art installation.'
So, get creative and think about what you already collect informally, whether you have pronounced it a collection or not. Are you a fan of antique medicine bottles, colorful buttons, children's train sets, interesting time-pieces, cameras or writing utensils? Is there a story behind them? How can you introduce your audience to these beautifully quirky things that speak to your essence?
7) Share your Artistic Process
This one may also be obvious, but let's include it anyway. I have seen process videos that are incredibly sloppy, but that is rare, and I will admit that it is almost impossible to scroll past a process video of an artist whose work I admire. Wouldn't you agree? So, next time you run across a process video, for example, pay attention to WHY you like it. For example, EmilyJeffords almost always includes soft music in the background while she paints, which is a perfect complement to her dreamy imagery and what seems like an almost meditative approach to her work (there is very little talking, if any, so it is almost like watching over her shoulder while she works).
Do it for the process because there is joy in the work. There is satisfaction in connecting with simple elements and in allowing your mind to stop over-analyzing. Let your hands begin their dance. Make something for the sake of the process and be amazed with how much joy shines through in the final piece. #doitfortheprocess @doitfortheprocess
Photographer Jamie Beck regularly uses Insta Stories to show her exact set up for a still life, including her equipment, props (with a few surprising shortcuts and tricks) as well as how she edits images, and makes adjustments as she continues to work on a final version. It's so interesting to watch, and even though I don't really intend to replicate her process, I admire her work immensely.
8) Share your Other Passions
Most artists and creatives are creative in multiple aspects of their lives. Rarely are they 'just one thing' professionally, and are often pursuing several passions things outside of what they may be known for within the art scene. For example, Lisa Congdon describes herself as a fine artist, illustrator and author. If you were to follow her on Instagram, you would also learn that Lisa is an avid cyclist who is currently obsessed with punch-rug hooking. How can you bring all of these aspects of yourself into your social media to showcase your talent and creativity on a bigger scale, and connect with your audience?
Hopefully these ideas have sparked a few new possibilities to explore.The key thing, I think, is not to approach it as a high-stakes activity that induces anxiety. Instead, try to focus on developing a social media presence that feels good and that you LOVE. Approach the process with enthusiasm, and try to push yourself to be as creative in this realm as you are in all other aspects of your life. There is no one-size-fits-all. Here's to making a "Best Artists to Follow" on social media list! (I'm teasing, but, c'mon, how great would that be?).